CHP’s involvment in the recent fires

CHP in the News

The following is a collection of stories about CHP’s involvement in the recent fires that have devastated Northern California.

CHP officer works overtime to take care of Napa neighborhood

Marissa Lang – SF Gate

There’s a rule in evacuated parts of Wine Country: Once you leave, you can’t come back.  Police cruisers, cones and orange-and-white barricades stand between residents and their homes. Officers hold the line and answer questions from anxious homeowners.  No, you can’t go down that road, they tell them.  There’s a downed tree. A power line in the road. A fire burning just over the hill.  Most conversations end there.  Not for California Highway Patrol Officer Tracy Ross.

Man stays behind to make room for family on CHP helicopter as wildfires raged in Napa

Vic Lee – ABC 7 News

A reunion took place between a CHP helicopter crew and the family they rescued right after the Atlas Peak fire started on Sunday night.  The father of the family made a difficult decision. This was the first time since the rescue that the CHP helicopter crewmembers saw Pepe and Graciela Tamayo, their son Jesse and his grandparents.

CHP Chopper Rescues Family From Wildfire in Two Daring Shifts

Terry McSweeney – NBC Bay Area

An emotional reunion at took place at Napa’s airport Wednesday night. But it almost didn’t happen. Pilot Pete Gavitte was flying his CHP chopper Sunday night toward Atlas Peak and saw what he said “looked like a nuclear bomb going off.” Gavitte and partner Whitney Lowe raced to the rescue and spotted the Tamayo family below with no way out. Pepe Tamayo knew it was a life-or-death moment.

CHP aircraft rescue 44 people, 5 dogs and 1 cat in North Bay fires

(Bay City News) – San Francisco Examiner

California Highway Patrol aircraft have rescued a total of 44 people, as well as five dogs and a cat, while responding to the North Bay fires that have killed at least nine people and destroyed more than 1,500 structures.  Rescue operations have slowed significantly, however, with 42 of those occurring before Monday afternoon.  They also used the public address system on their aircraft to warn residents of the need to evacuate, and in some cases landed near homes under threat from the fire to provide notification.

CHP helicopters rescue people trapped by flames in Wine Country

Michael Cabanatuan and Esther Mobley – SF Gate

California Highway Patrol helicopters airlifted more than two dozen people to safety as flames approached two high-elevation Napa County wineries, officials said Monday.  Those rescued were apparently working overnight as wine harvest laborers, officials said.  About 30 people were rescued from the top of Atlas Peak sometime after the fire broke out at 9:20 p.m. Sunday, said David Shew, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

CHP flight officer describes helicopter operations that rescued people from North Bay fires


CHP helicopter crew members risked their lives by flying in to rescue dozens of fire victims in the middle of the night.  Officer Shaun Bouyea told us one rescue involved a family with a small child that was trying to escape the fast-moving flames of the Atlas Peak Fire, north of Napa.  Boyea said the helicopter crew last night flew around looking for people who looked like they were trapped. They could tell what roads were blocked and they set them down and rescued them. There was no radio communication. They just did it by flying around seeing you who needed to be rescued.

Family has emotional reunion with helicopter pilot who rescued them from wildfires

John Blackstone – CBS Evening News

(VIDEO) Pete Gavitt, a California Highway Patrol helicopter pilot, was flying rescue missions through heavy smoke, darkness and strong winds. There was room on his helicopter for four when he found five members of the Tamayo family. John Blackstone has the story.

California Wildfires: At Least 31 Dead as Thousands More Evacuate

NBC Nightly News

(VIDEO) Wildfires across California wine country grew Thursday as firefighters struggled to contain them. Authorities have ordered thousands more to evacuate at-risk areas.

Nurse, retired CHP officer find ring among the wildfire ashes

KTVU Fox 2

It’s the little things.  As a retired California Highway Patrol officer and his wife, a nurse, were rooting around in the rubble after their home was damaged in the devastating wildfires, something caught their eye.  Beneath the rocks and debris, Eric and his wife found her sparkling ring intact in its box. That’s according to the San Francisco Local 798 firefighters union, who tweeted out two photographs of the smiling couple.  KTVU reached out on Tuesday for more details and is eagerly awaiting the full story.